Let’s take a moment to thank our good neighbours

I looked out my window this morning, and lo and behold, sunshine! It seems like weeks since I last saw blue skies, and although I wasn’t tempted to run outside and celebrate in my shorts, my attitude did tick upward a few points.

In truth I have been struggling with a bad case of the winter blahs.  Normally, I deal with January the way just about everyone else does in Toronto: I read all the emails from friends who have gone south for the winter with clenched teeth and drink lots of good wine. This year, however, my malaise started on November 7 and worsened about January 20. I spent a week curled in a fetal position under my bed, but realized that four years was a long time to contemplate the accumulation of dust bunnies. Eventually, my husband and I found we could cope if we stopped watching or reading the news – a difficult task for two information junkies.

However, what really got me over the hump was a reconfirmation of the essential goodness of people. A couple of personal examples.  I do a lot of entertaining over the holidays and on Boxing Day my dishwasher gave up the ghost. While not a major tragedy, this was not something that a hostess expecting eight guests for dinner wants to discover.  Now I have been calling Reg of Reg’s Appliances for years to fix almost every appliance in my house. I called him that evening and left a message figuring that he would get back to me after New Year’s. However, the next morning there he was on the phone walking me through a few manoeuvres that solved the problem. He took the time to do this for me despite the fact that he was dealing with a personal loss in his family. Thank you again, Reg.

Good neighbours, what would we do without them? I truly believe I have some of the best, but I want to single out Brian. He and his wife Sue live across the road from us and for the last two winters, he has taken it upon himself to not only shovel our sidewalk, but our driveway and steps as well. During a recent snowfall, he shovelled us out in the morning and then returned in the afternoon as well. There has to be a gold medal waiting for people like him. Good on you, Brian!

Perhaps the most important thing to lift my spirits is that I have begun to appreciate, once again, that despite the political turmoil south of the border, I now live in the best country in the world. It is a beacon of rationality in a world that seems to be fighting its way to the bottom. Our values recognize that everyone, no matter what language they speak, what country they came from or religion they practise, can make a contribution to a better Canada. I get teased by my American cousins for my acquired habit of saying “I’m sorry” in awkward social situations, but I love the manners of Canadians, the recognition that politeness makes life a little more pleasant.

I will be visiting the US for a week in February (thanks to another friend who invited me south, thank you, thank you, thank you Mima) and while I will soak in the sun and the culture (and send a few emails with warm weather shots to friends in Toronto), I will return to Canada with thanks, and the hope that winter will soon be over.

Carole Stimmell is the former editor of Beach Metro Community News.

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